The national bestseller, Phosphorescence is a beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness - the 'light within' - which will sustain us even through the darkest times.
WINNER OF THE ABIA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021
Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to the science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance of achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?
And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we're overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?
An intimate, achingly beautiful and inspiring exploration of the ways we can pursue awe, wonder and purpose, from one of our best, most perceptive writers.
Winner, Non-Fiction Category, Indie Book Awards 2021
Winner, ABA Booksellers Choice Non Fiction Book of the Year 2021
'Like spending an evening with a wonderful friend, with unlimited time and a glass of good wine in hand.... A beautiful and rallying read' The Australian
'Julia Baird's new, beautiful consideration of the things that glow through the murk... a book such as this one - one that aims to provoke delight and wonder and comfort, that is at its heart trying to find answers or modes of connection, or light - is of the moment in the best possible way.' The Guardian
'Intelligent and emotionally astute ... Many will find sustenance in reading it.'Sydney Morning Herald
'This book is beautiful. A book of tough hope. A light in the dark. A thing of beauty. Phosphorescence itself. Life, nature, hope. You should treat yourself.' Matt Haig
'That is the beauty of this profound book. It transports you into all the deep, inner yearnings you've had for a long time, and then articulates them for you ... I could rave about this gem of a book forever. We need this book. You need this book. It is the perfect gift for us all right now. It is perfect.' Better Reading
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this intimate exploration of our collective quest for self-improvement, Sydney writer and broadcaster Julia Baird compares inner fulfilment to the naturally occurring light of the book’s title. Baird finds constant inspiration in nature and science, yet also nurtures her religious faith. Whether opening up about her communal ocean swims or her repeated battles with cancer, Baird collapses our individual differences to remind us of what we have in common, especially our need for human contact in an increasingly isolated world. Told in short, digestible chapters, Phosphorescence blends fearless personal reflection with citations from across history and pop culture. True to its name, it proves illuminating throughout.
Australian journalist Baird (Victoria: The Queen) blends self-help, memoir, and popular science in this curious inquiry into modern humanity's struggle to find and maintain happiness. "Phosphorescence" in this context is more than the literal scientific phenomenon through which plants and animals (and as one study she cites claimed, even humans) become luminous; it's also the search for an inner joy amid darkness. For Baird, that glow can often be found in religious faith (despite her long personal history of resisting patriarchal church orthodoxy) or simply in early morning swims among sea life ("As your arms circle, swing, and pull along the edge of a vast ocean, your mind wanders, and you open yourself to awe"). Unfortunately, she flounders when wandering into bland self-improvement advice, with an overabundance of secondary sources, inspirational quotes, a platitude-laden "my darling daughter" missive ("Keep in mind that the most important quality in a person is goodness"), and cringe-inducing rhapsodies about finding one's own "tribe" (alongside, it should be noted, valuable lessons from Aboriginal cultures). There are sparks and flares of brilliance to be found, but overall the assembly never burns brighter than standard inspirational genre fare.
A book that you will take something away from a commit to living your life a little bit more authentically and present. This book is a tribute to survivors and an inspiration to all of us who pursue the full beauty of this one precious life.
The most beautiful book
Just stunning... I ran out a bought a hard copy for my friend